Service Review: Kobo Audiobooks Subscription

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Kobo Audiobook Subscription Service

**This is in no way affiliated with Kobo! It is simply my take on using the service!**

Compared to some, I’m a newbie when it comes to audiobooks. But I’ve come a long way since I did my last service review on the audiobook service Audible. I listen to audiobooks during my commute to work every week so they’ve become an everyday staple of my reading life.

While I mostly use my library, I’m always on the lookout for other great audiobook providers. So I was very, very excited when Kobo launched its own audiobook service in the latter half of 2017.

I’m a huge Kobo fan! My main eReader is a Kobo Aura and I love it for many reasons. I just feel like the understand the reader in me when it comes to features, tracking my reading stats and recommending books. I also really like dealing with the Kobo company. They’re based in Canada (though they are now owned by a Japanese company) and I find their customer service is always AMAZING. I like supporting Canadian industry and with the amount of books I go through, I’ve probably lost a significant portion of my paycheck to Kobo over the years.

For the first bit of this review, I’m going to lay out the basics of the Kobo Audiobook Service and give my take on it independently. At the end, I will do a comparison to my Audible experience just to give some context.

How Does it Work?

Kobo Audiobooks is both a single transaction audiobook purchase AND has its own monthly subscription service. In this review, I’m focusing on the monthly subscription service. Here is the schematic of how it works:

So basically, you pay $13 a month (CAD) to get one audiobook of your choice via a credit. The credit can be applied to any audiobook in their library and of any price range. So it can save you a lot of money if the books you are looking at buying are over $20 (which most are).

If you read more than one audiobook a month, they have other options as well including a monthly subscription for 2 credits (books) a month or a yearly subscription where you get all your credits as soon as you start for the entire year. Here are those other plans (all are in CAD):

And if you don’t want to wait for your next monthly credit, you can always buy 3 instant credits that you can use immediately in addition to your subscription.

My Experience:

–Signing-Up–

When I decided to sign-up, there was an incentive for MasterCard holders to get an additional 2 credits during the free trial if you signed-up with a MasterCard. That meant I got 3 books for simply trying the service!

Since I already have a Kobo account (and the app on my phone), it was super easy to sign myself up and get started.

–Listening Experience–

Since I already had the Kobo app on my Android Phone, I used that to listen to my audiobooks. That works perfectly fine for me because I just plug my phone into the auxiliary port of my car and listen that way. I would just make sure to download the book while I was connected to my home WiFi the night before and be on my way.

The app itself is pretty basic. I think those new to audiobooks (or those who find Audible has way too many features) will appreciate the simplistic design. It’s easy to scroll to a particular point in the novel and it has a quick link to the table of contents. It does tell you have far time-wise you are into the chapter and how long in total that chapter is. And when you view the book from your shelf, it tells you the exact time left of the entire novel as well as your total percentage complete.

But for those listeners who are more familiar with Audible and/or Overdrive apps, there are a few features missing. You can’t increase the speed; no ability to bookmark; and it has no sleep feature. I use the speed feature a lot when I listen to audiobooks (I default audiobooks to 1.25X speed) so that was a huge disappointment.

–Book Selection–

I had a bit of a struggle picking the three audiobooks I wanted to use my credits for but I was being a little pickier than usual. I really didn’t to use my credits on books I could get from my library so that limited me somewhat. I found Kobo did have a lot of the bigger titles in audiobooks so that wasn’t an issue. I did find their romance section wasn’t as large as Audible (but Audible is starting to have “Audible Exclusives” so that might be why).

However, their search feature makes it easy to see if titles are available in audio without clicking through multiple pages. They also have great subheadings and categories for you to search. AND, if you read enough with Kobo, they have a great algorithm for recommendations. I’ve found a lot of great books based on my reading and rating history with my Kobo books–and this has translated over to my audiobook selections as well.

How does it Compare to Audible?

I’m going to break it down a little by some of the notable Audible features:

  • Audible: 30% Discount on Individual Buys for Subscription Members
    • In general, Kobo doesn’t offer this deal BUT they have lots of other ways to save. (And, in general, their books appear to be cheaper than Audible in some cases)
      1. You can buy the instant credits (books average out to $13 each)
        • Which can save you more than 50% for certain books
        • The yearly subscription also saves you big $$$
      2. You can Price Match with another audiobook site to get the cheaper price
      3. You can use you Kobo Super Points to redeem audiobooks
  • Audible: can listen to books on your computer
    • Kobo only lets you listen on your phone or tablet. Which is fine for me but it is noteworthy.
  • Audible: has more listening option features (sleep, note taking, colour schemes)
    • As I said above, the Kobo app keeps things simple. While I would personal like the speed and sleep features, I do enjoy the less is more approach. I find Audible to be slightly overwhelming in all that you can do and since I’m driving most of the time, I don’t use those fancier features. It’s also much easier to find your overall % complete on Kobo compared to Audible.
  • Audible: has exclusive audio titles only available through their company
    • A lot of the romance authors I read have audiobooks only available on Audible. For the most part, Kobo does have a lot of the main publishing house works but there are some they don’t get right away or just plain lack.

So, Am I Keeping It?

As of right now, no but it’s definitely something I’m going to keep in the back of my mind. I haven’t exhausted my library yet and with the increasing popularity of audiobooks, they’re adding titles on a more regular basis. I’m sure one day I will want a wider, more readily available selection but I’m good with what I have right now. I will be keeping an eye out for sales though and I plan on redeeming some of my Super Points for audio reads later this year.

But as I said with the Audible review I did, for those who regularly buy audiobooks, this is a noteworthy service for you to explore. The way I see it, you’re saving money when you get the credits. I’m sure they mark up the titles (have you seen some of the $80 titles on audiobook sites?!) but you are still saving almost $10 a book regardless and you still have access to this books should you ever cancel your service.

>>TIP: If you are interested in a trial of any audiobook subscription service, keep an eye out for various incentives. Most free trials include 1 audiobook but there are usually other promotions floating around. For example: MasterCard holders got 2 bonus credits for using their MasterCard (which is never charged, just kept on file) for the Kobo subscription. And when I tried Audible a few years ago, I was able to get the first 2 months after the free trial for only $2–so I got 3 audiobooks for $2! You can find these deals by simply Google searching them or keeping an eye out on other blogs!

Do you use Kobo Audiobooks? What about another Audiobook Service? Any tips or feedback on the service?

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